Today I attended the service at St. Werburgh’s Church here in Dublin. The current building was built in 1719, the church itself dates back to 1178. While it now belongs to the Church of Ireland (the Anglican church of Ireland) it could be argued St. Werburgh’s was an “Anglican Church” from the very start. Built just after the arrival of Anglo-Norman into Dublin, it was frequented by immigrants from Bristol.
|St. Werburgh's Church entrance|
|Steeple per 1810|
Lord Edward FitzGerald was born in 1763, the fifth son of the Lord of Leinster. Wealthy, educated, highborn and handsome, Edward had a cushy life to look forward to. Pheasant hunting was not his style, though. He entered the British military reaching the rank of major, dabbled in politics as a Member of the Irish Parliament, and even explored the New World where he was adopted by the Hurons.
Then in 1792 FitzGerald ventured to Paris and lodged with a revolutionary named Thomas Paine. Having inspired the American Revolution, Paine was now working on the French. Paine didn’t hold it against FitzGerald that he had fought for the Brits against the Americans in their Revolution. FitzGerald was inspired by Paine. A year later he returned to the Irish Parliament, defending the Society of United Irishmen who wanted more independence from Great Britain. At that point they were hoping for constitutional reform. By 1896 both the United Irishmen and FitzGerald gave up and decided to follow the example of America and France.
|Lord Edward FitzGerald|
Ironically Town-Major Henry Sirr, the man who arrested Lord Edward FitzGerald is buried in the church’s graveyard.
Besides St. Werburgh’s most famous burial,it’s most famous baptism is probably that of Jonathan Swift, who became Dean of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Swift though is better remembered for his satire, Gulliver’s Travels.
Even with her lofty steeple and tower lopped off, St. Werburgh’s still a grand old lady. Her heritage permeates from her ancient foundations. Her namesake would be duly impressed with her church.
|interior of St. Werburgh's Church|